The Art and Craft of Shutting (the fuck) Up



Tony's neck-deep in gas calibration, humming to himself--P V, it equals n R T--when there's a low, satisfied hum and a few soft chimes of downloading and reloading files from JARVIS. The midnight turnover. Last thing he'd known, he was missing dinner.


Dummy whirrs as it nods.

"When the hell did it get to be midnight? JARVIS, explain yourself."

It knows better than to dignify that with a response. Tony sighs, pushes his chair back, realizes he's still dressed for the Yet Another Damn Press Conference early that afternoon.

"Hold that valve, I need a drink."

He closes the shop, pads upstairs. At least he took his shoes off before diving in. His watch band is too tight; he peels it off, tosses it somewhere, tugs off his tie and leaves it on the banister, and starts to unbutton his shirt.

Stops in his tracks.

There's somebody in front of the window--tall, pale, well-built, short dark hair, enormous navy coat. He's turning slightly in place, left arm up like he's looking at a watch, and there's a faint, contemplative sort of beeping.

"And what," Tony says after a moment, "are you doing in my living room?"

The stranger turns with a dazzling, movie-star smile, flips something closed on his left wrist. Tony crooks an eyebrow. "Doing a scan for alien tech, of course."

Tony narrows his eyes. "Alien tech?"

"Alien tech."

"Any particular reason I'm not calling the loony bin?"

He grins. "Let's say for now that I'm an acquaintance of SHIELD. Captain Jack Harkness is the name. Came all the way from England to do my little scan."

"What will we be saying later, then, Captain Sounds Awfully American for an Englishman?"

Jack laughs. "You like to move fast, Mr. Stark. I'm affiliated with Torchwood. No, you haven't heard of it."

Tony gives a sideways glance at a terminal in the corner, checks the encrypted readout. "Leave the gun on the table and we'll talk. Both guns. And nice wristband. Not a Brookstone piece of crap gadget shopper, I see."

Jack looks mostly impressed and just a little nervous as he unholsters a battered and well-loved World War II revolver. "Not except for the massage chairs. Nice concept. Tends to fall apart pretty quickly with what I use 'em for though."

"Yeah, tell me about it. If I wasn't so busy, I'd build one myself. Start with an aircraft-grade frame, go from there."

"Sounds like a plan." Jack's got his guns on the table now.

"What's with the antique?"

Those bright blue eyes go very opaque for a moment. "Bit of an heirloom."



"Get over here, Captain Britain, have a drink." Tony thumbs a switch, snatches the abruptly presented carafe of scotch, pours glasses. "So. Aliens."

"Figured you'd be on top of things like that," says Jack with an easy shrug. "Most people have fits of denial."

Tony snorts. "If I watch BBC, sure. Most of us just think you're all high as fucking kites. Well, and presidential assassins."

"We are high, that wasn't us, and that's beside the point." Jack takes his glass, looks for a moment at his left wrist as if that might tell him what's in it. "Ah, I've missed this. Went through a not drinking phase a bit back."

"You recovered, I see," says Tony.

"And the presidential bit--that really wasn't us. I was there when Winters died." Jack's face is a little tight; Tony guesses it hadn't been pleasant. And, come to think of it, he does look vaguely familiar--fellow in a big blue coat, shot down in the last few seconds of chaotic footage that some kids had sprayed all over YouTube when the media shut it down. Guess it hadn't been fatal. "That was aliens, matter of fact."

"Whatever happened to that prettyboy asshat of a prime minister you had, anyway?" Nobody on YouTube had ever figured that out.

Jack smiles a very grim, knife-sharp smile. "Alien."

"I hope you Torchy people have started scanning all candidates for election by now. So you're here to make sure I'm not an alien, I suppose?"

"And to make sure you're not using alien technology. Things fall to Earth, get into the wrong hands, more than you might think. I admire what you're doing, but if you're doing it with technology you shouldn't have, I'd have to shut you down."

Tony shrugs, unconcerned. "Everything I've got I built myself. Or built with things I built myself. What do you need to scan?"

Jack laughs. "Already took care of it. You're clean."

"Not often I get to hear that." Tony pulls up a chair, gestures for Jack to do the same. "Take your coat off and stay a while. If you want to. Why are you still here if I'm clean?"

"Curiosity." Jack takes a long drink. "I wouldn't have come all the way over here in person if I just wanted a quick scan."

"So what did drag you out here from the great British alien hunt, then? And do you use foxhounds?"

Jack laughs, big and easy. "Not generally, no--though I think I'd love to see my assistant blowing one of those big old horns."

"You too, huh?" Tony runs a finger round the rim of his drink. "No, really. International arms dealing drama? Damn Yankees flying around in metal suits and tearing up freeways? They want the products of my genius in that neck of the woods too?"

"Interesting stuff," Jack says, "but no. More those magic words miniaturized palladium-based arc reactor."

"Oh, a man of taste."

"Can I see it?"

Tony regards him, cocks his head, finally points at Jack's left wrist. "I'll show you mine if you show me yours."

Jack's hand closes over it almost unconsciously. "Not an arc reactor, that."

He's got that opaque look again. "You act like that, you're just going to make me more curious."

Jack laughs. "You may be a couple of centuries ahead of the rest of the planet, Stark, but this." He doesn't even trail off, just stops, like he's saying too much.

Tony thinks, and the pieces fall together far too easy. "Nicely miniaturized, but how did you solve all the relativity issues?"

Jack shakes his head. "I didn't build it. Not nearly that clever. Besides, it's broken. And you realize I don't know what you're talking about."

Tony leans back, takes a long sip of his drink, and contemplates. It's a huge steaming pile of bullshit to take a face value--then again, who was he to talk? He's got no reason to trust the smiling bastard, but no reason to distrust him either. His guns are on the table. Tony's three feet from an express elevator down to his workshop; once he's in his suit, this guy's toast, and that's not even counting the rest of the security systems he's installed. More since announcing his identity. He's not stupid. At least all the shit on YouTube makes more sense now.

But, nags his fear, Jack did get in here in the first place without tripping them. But SHIELD has access codes. But--

He sets his drink down with a loud clink, and, still looking intently at Jack, reaches for the top buttons of his shirt. They lock eyes as he undoes them; Jack looks ancient and a little hungry. Paler in the white light of the reactor leaking through his undershirt. Pull that down, and the cool brilliance turns Jack's skin to ice and his eyes to pale dawn blue, and washes out the faint, fascinated smile tugging at his lips as his eyes finally track away from Tony's.

"That," Jack murmurs, "is a beauty." He reaches, catches himself. "May I?"

Tony shrugs.

It's odd, he still notices sometimes, to see somebody's hand reaching for his chest but feel nothing. He knows so precisely what Jack's feeling--the concentric rings of the glass covering, surprisingly cool over the burning white light of the reactor--but that's the beauty of the thing anyway, the heat uptake efficiency. The equally surprising warmth of the ring of steel around it, soaked in ninety-seven degrees of body heat. But he still feels nothing--except when Jack's wide warm fingers brush against the skin butted up against it, and he can't stop the sharp breath of surprise. Always tender there.

"Centuries ahead," Jack murmurs. "Gotta chafe like hell, though." He's crouching between his legs like some big cat, face inches from the reactor.

"Pretty much," says Tony, and reaches for his drink.



"That," Jack says, when he's back in his seat and Tony's undershirt is back in place, "and you're a fucking genius. Like I said, centuries ahead of your time. I like meeting interesting people."

"I get that a lot," Tony says, not particularly flattered.

"How do you do it? Is it instinct, or is your intellect just that good, or--"

"What makes you think there's a difference? Sure, it's instinct. My instinct never shuts up, never stop figuring things out. Right now, I'm thinking about the gas calibration problem I'm working on downstairs, and contemplating a particular alloy of molybdenum and whether it would be worth making, and calculating the lifespan of an arc reactor--well, I'm always doing that--and I build steam engines in my head for fun, have since I was ten." He's up and pacing. "They call that intellect. But they put the pieces for a circuit board in front of me and I just knew how they went together. They made sense that way. And they call that instinct."

"I'd call both genius."

"Funny, usually I hear that from girls trying to get into my pants."

"You do like to move fast." Jack's standing again, too, left his drink behind.

Tony laughs. "It's hard not to, when you're me. Brain doesn't shut up, remember. I go to a party, even, I'm thinking of answers to everything anybody says and tracing the vectors of those little wispies around their ears when they didn't wear enough hair spray, and then you answer everybody before they're done talking and laugh at all the right times, take somebody home and have explosive fantastic sex--"

"Always good," Jack says.

"--drink until you pass out on the couch, think up something in your sleep, get up, make something amazing that'll do no good in the end because all the plans are sketched out in your head anyway and you need to get it out before you start dreaming about it when you're awake--"

They're standing a little too close for comfort.

"Screw it," says Tony, and grabs Jack by the back of the neck and kisses him, fierce and sloppy.

Jack barely hesitates, like he isn't even surprised, and grabs back, and they're plastered against each other, Jack's fingers running hard and possessive down his back, kissing like they're going to devoure each other. Tony's back hits the wall; he squirms, pants into Jack's mouth for a moment, drops his drink on the carpet and shoves and turns them so it's Jack pinned--

"You," he says, breaking the kiss for a moment, "are a toothy bucket of eels."

Jack laughs, cackling. "Speak for yourself. Damn nice surprise. Most geniuses I know are too fucking shy."

"Well, it's always--no, what am I saying, it's never the quiet ones." Tony gives Jack a shove towards the bedroom.

Jack shoves back.

Tony grabs for his shoulders, digs teeth into his neck, and Jack lets out a long ragged groan, turns in a blur of motion, and slams him back against the wall. Tony sucks air, considers calling his tailor because his pants are far too tight, and lunges. They roll in a blur, shouting laughter, come up, Tony clips him across the jaw.

Jack staggers back, hand to his chin, grins all teeth. "Don't do that."

"Why not?"

"Cause I like it too much when hot guys punch me."

"Then why not?"



They're a bundle of thrashing heat on the bed, yanking open each other's pants, and Jack's big hand is closing around his cock, tugging with a roll of the thumb under the head that makes him groan and jerk his hips, and then he bites his chin, beats a hand against his shoulder, and finally manages, "Stop. Wait."

Jack pulls away, bewildered.

"You," Tony says, pointing intently, laughs, shakes his head. "You bucket of eels, you."

"Yeah," Jack pants, cautious, "that's me."

"You. I'm going to scuffle with you again, and this time you're going to win, really win, and throw me down--tie me up or whatever, I don't care, you're a British secret service type, you've probably got a twisted imagination--and fuck me so hard I can't remember my own name."

Jack blinks. "More twisted than most, sure, but why? You don't like remembering who you are?"

Tony chuckles. "No problem there. Well, not most of the time, but all told, being Tony Stark is a pretty good deal. Lots of shit, karma's a bitch, might get worse, but still, no, it just might make this shut up for five seconds." He taps the side of his head.

Jack looks like somebody just handed him a Tony-Stark-to-English dictionary. He digests it for a few moments. "Hence the sports cars and the groupie record?"

"Naw. Combat at Mach 2, that's where it's at."

There's a moment more of intense, cautious consideration before a bright, reckless grin breaks out on Jack's face, and just a moment of that before he lunges, almost faster than even Tony can follow, like a great hungry tiger.



Three minutes later, Tony's a panting, bruised puddle on his carpet, cheek pressed to the curling pile, hands locked helplessly behind his back in a clever little collapsible pair of cuffs from Jack's belt that JARVIS hadn't even seen. His cock's pressed between his belly and the shag, hot and aching, Jack's weight on his thighs and one big hand bearing down at the back of his neck. Just holding him still until he stops struggling. Stops squirming, not that it's easy when he's this turned on. Curls and uncurls his hands, straining in vain against unyielding metal.

"Fuck," he whispers.

"You asked for it."

"Didn't say I didn't. Just utilized a common expletive."

Jack grabs him by a bicep, hops off him, rolls him over none too gently and drags him bodily up to his knees. There's a hand clamped on his shoulder, a hand in his hair holding his head back, baring his throat--the struggle, the gasp for air is utterly instinctive. He nearly throws Jack off him.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa--"

"Down, boy." Jack gets him into a frighteningly effective hold.

"--easy on the hair." Tony surfaces, pants. Jack's terribly warm and terribly strong.

"Hurts?" Jack's looking down at him with surprising tenderness.

"No. Just." Just been dunked once too many. "Easy on the hair."

"Gotcha." Jack grins a very toothy grin. "Doesn't mean I'm going easy on you."

"Fine by--augh--" Jack's caught him already, wrestling him back down to the floor. There's teeth light on his neck, harder on his shoulder. Nails digging into the small of his back. Jack leaves a sharp, toothy bruise just left of a nipple.

"You're going to have to show me where you keep your fun stuff," Jack murmurs in his ear.

"Fun stuff?"

Jack tugs him back up by the shoulder and takes his face in his hands--better than the hair--for a brief, furious kiss. "Fun stuff, genius. I only have the cuffs."

"For your," Tony pants, "twisted British imagination? Don't do this very often."

"Bullshit," Jack says, and cuffs him, light and affectionate.

"No, really. Really freaky chick I picked up once left some stuff though."


"Uh." He looks around as best he can, realizes his heart's pounding. Jack's got one large hand tight on his shoulder. He jerks his head. "That one, on the bottom, maybe?"

Jack goes; Tony didn't expect him to take him with him. It's awkward and painful and scrambling, Jack not quite letting him walk, can't crawl with his hands cuffed. He lurches against the wall of drawers, a handle digging into his back, legs to one side with barely the leverage to get back onto his knees proper. At least he's used to being tugged around, knows how to let go of his tension so his muscles don't tear--first thing he learned with the suit, he wasn't moving it, it was moving him--

Jack slides open the drawer.


"She wasn't that kind of freaky," Tony says.

Jack cuffs him again, hard, open palm to his skull. Pain rings red across his scalp; he grits his teeth against a yell and lets Jack toss him back to sprawl on the carpet. "Try again."

"Two drawers over?" He could, Tony thinks distantly, actually be an enemy agent, sent here to win his trust and torture him to death. Not likely. Sent here by someone who knew him terribly well, for one thing, knowing Jack would get into his pants and how--as well as Pepper, maybe, or, well, people he's screwed and doesn't know, so just Pepper, really--but just that little bit of uncertainty jacks up the adrenaline jolting through his veins, and that's actually--

Jack's dragging him to the next drawer. The faint, heady smell of leather assaults him. Fun stuff. He's on his knees, his face inches from the disordered pile of rope and leather. His shoulders ache; his blood's pounding in his ears; Jack's holding him there, staring at his immanent twisted doom, and he can't hold back a faint laugh.

"Oh," says Jack, pawing through, "that's pretty."

"That's a fucking collar."

"Yeah, and?" Jack's shaking it free and running his thumb over it. It's wide, leather, looks sinfully soft. "Comfy, too. I'm spoiling you."

Tony gives another wrench at the cuffs. "Not your dog."

Jack eases his head back, and he gets close range of that dazzling, joyous smile. "No, just a gorgeous, brilliant man who I'm going to screw the living hell out of." There's soft, supple leather closing around his throat; his gut wrenches. Jolt of sense memory--Yinsen buckling the padding round his neck, back there in--shove that down, think about the steam engine, easier that way. Because it's this Jack fellow buckling him up now--Jack drags fingertips down, over the reactor, down the tender skin of his stomach. There's fierce mischief in his grin. "Besides, makes it easier to haul you around, Mr. Easy-on-the-Hair."

Tony declines to answer. Jack tosses the rest of the tangle up onto the bed, drags him up by the collar to follow it. He wallows in the familiar comfort--but only for a moment, because then Jack's rolling him onto his back--arms tucked comfortably in the small of it, at least, cause the cuffs hold them parallel--and straddling him with a hand pinning his chest just left of the reactor, and fishing a jackknife out of his pocket.

The fear's like a low-amp jolt from sternum to cock. "You fucking--"

"Not for you," Jack says calmly, flipping it open with his teeth. He's cuffed and collared and half naked under a stranger and there's a fucking knife on him--and it's just Jack cutting his shirt off his shoulders, tearing shredded fabric free of his bound arms. Jack easing off him to yank his belt out of his loops and give his pants the same treatment. Point skimming his skin, hissing rip of fabric.

"You ass," says Tony, "you could've taken those off."

Jack laughs, runs nails up his bared legs. "More fun this way." He rolls him to his side, digs fingers into the muscles of his ass. Light slap to the back of his head, considerably harder to his ass. The reactor turns the sheets terribly white. Jack closes the knife, puts it away, and just holds still for a moment, big warm hand on Tony's hip.

"It turns you on, doesn't it?" Jack asks softly.

"Depends upon what the hell you're talking about."

"Violence. The power. The thrill. You know," and there's that soft, insinuating laugh, "darkly seductive speech number six."

Tony stares along the landscape of rumpled sheets, stunned. Never wanted to admit it. Jack rolls him back, takes his chin, forces him to look at him.

"It turns you on." It wasn't much of a question.

"Only someone who likes it themselves would've known that," Tony whispers.

There's something very dark in Jack's baby blues--and, sure, it's tugging at his cock, turning him on, just as Jack is tugging him back to his knees. Standing over him, boots on the mattress, Tony kneeling naked with his face in his crotch. Like that constant background pulse of blood and adrenaline in combat, even when it's all his mind calculating vectors, possibilities, reflexes of thought to dodge blows, not like the suit didn't do most of the work--except in those moments of absolute mortal terror or despair, when everything shut up--

"Yeah," Jack says, "yeah. It turns me on sometimes. Fine. I think you should shut the fuck up now."

"Make me."

"Really?" Jack pulls his head back by his hair--gently, very gently, though the hand on his face isn't--and looks down on him and rubs his thumb along the corner of his mouth. Tony nips at it, not particularly hard. "Good thing you don't mind breaking rules, 'cause I think I'm about to break a first date rule."

"This," Tony says, not too shaky, "is not a date."

Jack moves about behind him, wobbling the mattress, and hooks one hand into the back of the collar--not much of anywhere to go without choking himself. Tony lets his head fall back against Jack's wrist and breathes, almost trying to forget that he's one half-helpless bundle of exposed nerves and pulsing blood and hard, defenseless cock--but forgetting that isn't the point, now is it? He'd asked for this. And what alloy could those cuffs possibly be composed of that the scanners didn't pick them up, and what would he see if he cracked the case of that wrist comp--

--and there's rubber brushing his cheek, because Jack's holding a fucking ball gag.

It occurs to him to howl in protest, but that, he thinks, isn't the point either.

Jack pulls him back against his thigh and strokes his hair out of his face. "You," he murmurs, "have five seconds to say no."

Tony opens his mouth, closes it, and lets them pass. And then Jack's easing his jaw open with strong fingers, shoving rubber between his teeth, buckling the strap tight behind his head, and that's the end of that.



Tony, centuries ahead of his time, face-down in the mattress with legs splayed, groaning and letting out the occasional mangled attempt at words as he fucks him hard with three fingers, is about the most beautiful thing Jack Harkness has seen in a while. Thrashes, hands grasping at air behind his back. Babbling moans into the gag, robbed of all coherence. Shutting up sometime soon, if this all goes right.

Jack throws on a condom, lubes up, wrestles Tony into position with one arm hooked around his chest. Fingertips on the reactor, unconsciously stroking the smooth covering, even if he can't feel it at all. Shaking as his cock sinks into tight, tight heat, got to hold back from the edge, got to hold back for him. Fucking him so hard he knocks the breath out of him on every stroke and the enormous bed moves a foot or two by the time he slows down, spits on his hand, and reaches down for Tony's cock.

Tony's long, wordless, muffled howl--infinitely gratifying.



Jack eases Tony to sit against the headboard, pillowed, wipes the come from his stomach with the corner of a sheet. He's panting--deep, straining, exultant breaths. Everything's very quiet.

Jack thumbs something in his flopped-open pants and the cuffs pop loose. Hot, stiff aches jolt through Tony's shoulders; he groans into the lump of rubber lodged behind his teeth, that's he's gotten so intimately familiar with.

Jack strokes his cheek, reaches for the strap of the gag. It comes out, reluctant; Tony works his jaw, swallows. "Oh, fuck," he murmurs, fervent. "Oh, good fucking god."

"The general idea, yeah," Jack says with a chuckle, all affection. "Good show?"

"Hell, yes." His voice is raw. So are the corners of his mouth. He eases his arms around front, ignores the ache, prods at the latter, wipes the drool off his chin. Jack's flushed red all down his chest; they're both sweaty as pigs. His ass feels raw and goopy. Jack rubs his shoulders, kisses his temple at his grateful moan, and starts pulling off the clothes he hadn't bothered to earlier.

"Hey, spotlight," Jack murmurs, tapping Tony's chest. "Get down here." At Jack's touch--gentle, now, terribly gentle--he eases down, lies full-length on the mattress. So fucking comfortable.

"You ever call me that again," Tony mutters, "I am, as they say, gonna cut you." He aches and feels fantastic, and Jack's finally pulling off his damn boots and spooning up beside him, and that's about when he dozes off.



It's the late, late cold morning when they're up, alone in the huge empty house, showered and damp with fine gold scotch on the rocks and silky robes. They babble on about technology, war, not paying attention to soccer or oh, excuse me, football, other things they have in common. Tony talks more about himself than he might like--the painful bits. Jack laughs, a lot, some of it bitterly.

"I remember abruptly acquiring a conscience once. It's a little painful."

"A little. Bloody British understatements."

"I'm really not British, you know."

"Yeah, and I'm not Paris Hilton. Your point?"

"Like England a lot more than Paris Hilton. I mean, she's just not that attractive. And this is me talking."

"So you probably would care if America declares war on it like they keep threatening to."

"Hell, yes." Dark determination flares in Jack's eyes. Tony feels like he's being sized up for the first time in a while. "Sometimes I wonder why they haven't yet."

"England's full of white people who might get sympathy or have political clout. America doesn't do revenge, doesn't do war with equals, it does imperialism. Believe me. I've seen the system from most ends. And I think the spooks are hard against it, so that helps. A lot."

"So I've heard. What if they did, though?" Jack turns his drink in light and silence, broken only by clinks of ice. Neither of them has to say it out loud--wondering whether they'll wind up facing each other in war.

Tony gives Jack a sly smile. "Hey, I'm a spook too. If my country would be that stupid..." He flexes his hand. He's not actually making a fist, he realizes with curiosity. Just hooking his fingers, instinctive, into invisible servos just so. Would be making a fist if he were dressed. "I'd just have to do something about it."

Jack grins and raises his glass. "To peace."

Tony's smile twists. "Or something like it."

"I could," Jack says, after a non sequitur moment, "wipe your memory. I should. You shouldn't know I exist. Aliens, any of it."

Tony's gut gives a little lurch as he wonders how. He doesn't show it, just shrugs. "And I could have you turned over to SHIELD for questioning. Impersonating an agent and all, not very nice. Or just kill you."

"Actually, no," Jack says absently, "you couldn't."

Tony looks at him. Jack looks back up for a moment, looks away, gives a languid shrug of his own.

"I can't die," he says at last.

"You," Tony says after a moment, "are full of shit."

Jack chuckles. "That too. But I still can't die. Shoot me, strangle me, starve me, anything. Just like a bad software patch--never takes."

He wouldn't think of believing it if he hadn't seen him dropped in his tracks by a laser in a fuzzy FLV. "Is this common, when you come from?"

"I'm the only one."

"You know, I may just have to take you downstairs to my workshop and conduct diabolical experiments on you."

"Wouldn't be the first."

There's a long silence. Jack meets his eyes, looks away, looks back.

"How old are you?" Tony asks quietly.

"Didn't your momma tell you never to ask a lady that?"

Tony says nothing.

"Pushing two hundred. Even in my world, that's longer than anyone's meant to go."

"You," Tony says after a moment, "must have a hell of a time shutting yourself up, with two hundred years of junk in there. Downstairs. Diabolical experiments. Offer stands."

Jack looks at him with one flash of stunned, tender desperation, then looks away.

Tony's on him in a second.


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